(NEW YORK) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez are the winners in Tuesday’s primary for the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated when John Kerry became Secretary of State.
Markey, a House member since 1976, bested U.S. Rep Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., and Gomez beat out former acting ATF director and former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, as well as state legislator and former general counsel to Mitt Romney, Dan Winslow. Markey and Gomez will face off in the general election on June 25.
Markey was heavily favored to beat Lynch and had the backing of establishment Democrats in the state.
“On the Democratic side, it’s a decisive victory for Ed Markey and, for all intents and purposes, he was the official Democratic nominee although the party was ostensibly neutral,” Tufts political science professor Jeffrey Berry told ABC News.
Gomez, a Latino businessman in the state and a former Navy SEAL with a Harvard MBA, is a political newcomer, but his moderate appeal won over voters in blue Massachusetts. Although Markey will be heavily favored to win the general election, Berry said it will be a real fight despite Markey’s organization.
“This is a very impressive victory for Gabriel Gomez, who literally came out of nowhere to power past Michael Sullivan and Dan Winslow,” Berry said. “He won largely on the basis of personal appeal. He seems like a fresh face and someone who is likely to give the Democrats a challenge come two months hence.”
The primary was very much overshadowed by the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing and the manhunt for the suspects that left four dead and more than 260 injured.
However, even before the attacks, interest wasn’t high in the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Kerry, and turnout Tuesday was low.
“Certainly, it has been overshadowed in the sense that the drama and the pain of the April 15 bombing made it look less important but, on the other hand, no one was paying attention to [the special election] before the bombing,” Berry said. “The race hasn’t gained traction and this added to that.”
All five of the candidates suspended campaigning for the week after the bombings and have had to figure out the delicate balance since they started up again. Berry chalked up the lack of interest not just to the bombings, but to election fatigue for Bay State residents, who have endured the 2010 special U.S. Senate election, the 2010 gubernatorial election, a 2012 U.S. Senate election and the 2012 presidential election.
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